Israeli intelligence was close to assassinating Usama bin Laden in 1996 with the help of one of his confidantes, but the attack was derailed by a crisis with the Palestinians, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Yediot Ahronot daily said Israeli intelligence was helping investigate an attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia and came across a group of radicals based in Sudan and led by bin Laden.

The paper said Israeli intelligence, cooperating with another country, persuaded a confidante of bin Laden to kill him, but the operation was canceled by a crisis between Israel and the Palestinians that disrupted the link between Israeli intelligence and the foreign service.

Israeli officials refused to comment on the brief report. The paper said the full story would be published Friday in its weekend magazine section.